KMT chairman arrives in Beijing for talks
President Hu Jintao has called for further co-operation between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party - a sign of the importance the two parties will play in developing cross-strait ties.
'Our two parties should have further and closer co-operation to continue to promote cross-strait ties and development,' Mr Hu said at a meeting with visiting KMT honorary chairman Lien Chan in Beijing yesterday.
He said both Taiwan and the mainland were expected to enter a new era with 'the latest development in Taiwan', referring to the return to power of the mainland-friendly KMT, which ruled Taiwan for five decades until it was defeated by the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the 2000 presidential election.
The March 22 poll saw the KMT's Ma Ying-jeou beat his DPP opponent Frank Hsieh Chang-ting in a landslide. Mr Ma says he will engage the mainland and normalise cross-strait economic relations after he takes office on May 20.
In a trip dubbed 'a journey of peace', Mr Lien made history in 2005 with an unprecedented visit to the mainland for reconciliation between the two parties. Their reconciliation and the resultant talks paved the way for a thaw in cross-strait relations which had been soured in the past year by outgoing President Chen Shui-bian of the DPP through his strong pro-independence stand. Since 2005, the two parties have held a series of forums to find ways to promote cross-strait exchanges.
In response, Mr Lien said yesterday that the result of the March presidential poll in Taiwan indicated that cross-strait ties would head in a more practical direction.
'It reflects the public desire for a more pragmatic cross-strait relationship,' Mr Lien said, adding that the KMT government 'would do all it can to promote peaceful development between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait'.
It was Mr Lien's fourth trip to Beijing and fourth meeting with Mr Hu since 2005. Mr Lien has been given high-profile treatment by Mr Hu, who even hosted a dinner for him at his residence.
Political observers in Taiwan said this indicated that Mr Hu still recognised Mr Lien's political significance and wanted to continue the communication platform between the KMT and the Communist Party, even if the two sides of the strait were to resume political contacts in the future.
Taiwanese media had reported that now that he was in charge of cross-strait affairs, Mr Ma wanted to make the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) the primary channel for contacts with the mainland.
The SEF was set up in Taiwan in the early 1990s to represent the government in talks with the mainland in the absence of official ties. But the SEF's function diminished after Beijing refused to talk with Taiwan during Mr Chen's tenure.
Mr Lien arrived in Beijing on Monday for a nine-day visit. In the evening, Mr Lien was feted by Jia Qinglin , chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Mr Lien also attended a ceremony in Beijing's Olympic Park yesterday to unveil a replica of a sculpture symbolic of cross-strait peace created by the late Taiwanese artist Yuyu Yang. Mr Lien gave the original sculpture to Mr Hu as a gift during a second visit to the mainland in 2006. Mr Hu later suggested an enlarged replica of the sculpture be made to place at Olympic Park.
The ceremony was also attended by Beijing's mayor Guo Jinlong , Taiwan Affairs Office director Chen Yunlin and other officials. During the unveiling, Mr Lien said 2008 was a joyful year for Chinese people because the Olympic Games would be held in Beijing.